I missed a few days of writing recently. But I’m back on track!
Soon, I will write a little something about my secret stash of unwatched Star Trek episodes. For now, just accept that I have such a stash. This week, in honor of DS9’s 25th anniversary, I’ve been burning through several of the DS9 episodes I had stashed away. So here are some reflections on one of them, “Playing God” from season 2. I am only halfway through it, but I’ve written this anyway.
The vole infestation is a marvelous B story. It’s probably a great early example of DS9’s signature comedic B stories.
The station has large vole infestation. The voles are a Cardassian pest, left behind when the Cardassians pulled out of DS9. They’re like a cross between a rat and a cockroach — which would be revol(e)ting, except that the one non-moving rubber prop vole we see is an absolutely ridiculous rubber chicken-looking thing.
The result for the viewer is a subplot about Kira, O’Brien and Sisko on a quest to rid themselves of voles, crawling around on their hands and knees and generally being very frustrated. Somehow, every technological solution they try — Starfleet’s usual MO — is a total failure. The voles have damn-near defeated them.
It’s ridiculous, but it’s also part of DS9’s often subtle deconstruction of the perfected, utopian humanity that TNG sold us on. A plot like this mocks TNG’s version of Starfleet; for all their technology, the DS9 crew is defeated by a bunch of rats.
The A story, about Jadzia assessing a prospective Trill host, is mostly a dud. The promise of the Dax character I don’t think was ever fully realized on the show; somehow, it never quite worked for me. But this one does give us a nice moment where Jadzia admits that she was being assessed for joining just a few years ago. In many ways, this wise old being admits, she is back to being young and inexperienced now as Jadzia.
Sadly, I don’t think we see much more of that. She often seems carefree and playful, a real party animal — and probably the most promiscuous (almost entirely off-screen) primary character in all of Trek. But I don’t think that’s tied to her relative youth as a host and a person; I suspect it comes from Curzon, her previous host, a man who was also a promiscuous party animal.
In this episode, she worries that the young initiate she is evaluating, Arjin, will be overwhelmed by being joined with a symbiont because he doesn’t know himself. Indeed, we see exactly this happen when Ezri, with no training or preparation, is emergency joined with Dax. With Jadzi, it doesn’t happen to the same degree as Ezri, but she does seem to have many of Curzon’s qualities.
OK, I’m going to finish the episode now.